Ride the Puddles

Saxo Bank vs Leopard-Trek: Part 1

Posted by bikezilla on January 8, 2011

Jakob Fuglsang wanted his freedom. So he abandoned Bjarne Riis and Saxo Bank to find that freedom with Leopard-Trek, a team where he’s still buried behind a pair of #1s (Frank and Andy Schleck) and the best time trail guy in the world by a considerable margin (Fabian Cancellara).

So what’s changed, Jakob, besides the fact that you no longer need to deal with Richie Porte’s dominance?

Wasn’t that the real rub? You don’t believe yourself to be Richie’s equal (and you’re probably not), and you knew that even with the real Bigs gone you’d still get scraps. So instead of being a close #2 (or a close number three if things shake out in Alberto Contador’s favor) to a guy who is technically your junior and who you don’t feel has paid his dues, you stomp off and seat yourself as a distant #3.

Seems like you’re not only still settling for scraps, but there’ll be skimpier than those you’d have been tossed at Saxo.

Silly, silly Jakob. I think you blew this call.

No, I didn’t forget about Jakob’s dreams of time trial glory on a team that also includes Fabian Cancellara. It doesn’t matter what team Jakob rides for, his chances of topping Fabian are still abysmal.

Meanwhile it seems that Brian Nygaard and his accomplice, Kim Andersen are generally viewed as traitors and plunderers, and not especially well respected by cycling journos and fans.

Is that fair? They SEEM like a pair of weasels, but are they?

Are they the petulant children, rebelling against their stern parent and taking a teenager’s underhanded and conniving way around?

Or was Riis truly a tyrant and Nygaard and Andersen but providing a necessary safe haven for all those desiring to flee his oppression?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that Riis is a proven commodity. He’s shown that he can identify, develop and maintain talent.

Right now Nygaard and Andersen get to reap the benefits of that.

But do they share Riis’ talents?

This season the victor in the Saxo Bank vs Leopard-Trek rivalry will clearly be Leopard.

But when the level of excellence that Leopard has inherited (pilfered?) from Saxo must be maintained over time, when it needs to be nurtured and replenished, what will happen?

It will tremble, it will falter, it will crumble.

Unless are Nygaard and Andersen are Riis’ equals and immensely talented in their own right.

Someone once said to me something like, “Wisdom is gained by screwing up.”

And of course the nauseatingly great Oprah has many times said, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Riis has gathered his wisdom at a cost. Nygaard and Andersen can’t currently match it, because they haven’t yet paid the price to gain it. This will be their . . . time of gathering wisdom.

They don’t know what they don’t know, and by the time they figure it out Leopard will be defunct and they’ll be rebuilding, probably more successfully, with new teams.

Over time it seems that Riis will be the one to laugh loudest, longest and last.


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